When I visit loved ones whose littles are grown up I feel a flood of peace and satisfaction wash over me when I enter and see clean counter tops, organized shelves and clean couches: I also feel a pang of guilt and anxiety wash over me as I know mine have sticky jam left all over them from feeding breakfast to three little ones. I need to remember one thing: it’s just not my time to have a clean house right now. And that’s ok.
Crumbs, clothes, and diapers everywhere
My couches have more crumbs hiding in them and under them than I care to admit or even acknowledge: but as soon as I clean the crumbs out a little one waddles over with a baby cookie and smooshes it all over my lap.
As soon as I clean the counters our biggest runs into the kitchen exclaiming he wants another grilled cheese sandwich and so I haul everything back out. He dances around with his plate, crumbs flying everywhere and his laughter fills the house.
As soon as I organize all the drawers our little girl runs over and tries on literally every single solitary outfit she owns and struts like she’s on a runway with the biggest joy-filled smile.
As soon as I clean the cupboards our little chunky-thighed guy plops right down next to the plastic container drawer in his diaper and hauls them all out with the biggest toothy grin.
As soon as I wipe the windows all three of them get so excited to see their grandparents in the driveway that they cover them with a mosaic of tiny finger prints and kiss prints.
As soon as I clean the mirrors, the sink water gets turned on way too fast because someone wants to brush her teeth all by herself. Toothpaste and water droplets fly everywhere.
Cleaning never ends and nothing is ever clean anyways
As soon as my husband cleans out our vehicles, the kids haul out more snacks and toys than they can possibly carry and trip down the deck stairs holding all their “necessities” for our next round of adventures.
As soon as I make our bed, I hear squeals outside my door busting in to play hide and go seek in it. Which then turns into a jump challenge and leads into them taking every single pillow out of every single room and putting them at the foot of our bed to jump into the pile. Their excitement can’t be contained.
I let them because I know someday they won’t go around our house collecting pillows.
As soon as I organize our closet the littlest climbs in and sees how many things he can pull off the shelves and hangers. He beams with pride as he sits in the big pile he’s created just like his brother and sister have with all my pillows.
As soon as my husband organizes all the toys, it’s play-time and the kids leave no toy untouched. The floor practically disappears and our feet pay the price from stepping on too many tiny princess accessories, toy cars and superheroes. Their excitement is through the roof and their cries of
“Watch this Daddy!” and
“Watch this Mommy!”
…are ones we know we will really miss someday. So we collapse on the couch and try with all of our might to savor the mess like they do.
Savoring the mess
Our kids find so much joy in these messes, when all we see is disarray and all we feel is stress and an inability to relax amidst the chaos. We try and try to clean up and keep up and lighten up yet everything we do with our three miniatures running around gets undone.
Perhaps we need to see the toys everywhere through the eyes of our kids, the strewn pillows, the clothing piles, the crumbs and sticky counters because they are literally having a blast!
My Dad always used to tell me that if something isn’t going to matter in five years stop worrying about it: these messes, they won’t matter, and the next 5, 10, 15 years will fly by, but the memories of their joy-filled faces and wide-dimpled smiles will laterally last forever.
Putting aside the desire for a clean house
Friends, family, and anyone else who shows up at my front door: it’s just not my time to have a clean house and I’m totally learning to put my intense desire for order aside and be okay with it.
I’m learning to stop caring about what might be going through your mind when you show up at my door and look at the chaos directly behind me.
I’m learning to “let it go” as my daughter belts out at the top of her lungs every. single. day. because my ideal of the perfectly clean house after almost seven years of raising babies is gone.
My season for peace and minimalism will come, but then I’m sure I’ll be sobbing to my husband that I want the mess back. I’ll be running around the house collecting all the pillows and putting them at the foot of our bed just to imagine their tiny bodies jumping up and down in our room with inexplicable joy.